This Is Me: Sarah Corbett

The founder of Craftivist Collective about love and peace – that may sound cheesy but we’re totally backing it!

Interview by Sofie Jenkinson, photo by Craftivist Collective/Robin Prime

I’ve always been creative. I used to do a lot more painting and drawing but moving to a tiny room in London made it harder to paint so I got into craft because you can do it anywhere.

I’ve never been taught how to craft so don’t look too closely because it’s pretty messy! I love cross-stitching because I’m a bit OCD so I like the grids in cross-stitch. I love hand embroidery too. I’m not a knitter though, which shocks a lot of people.

I have been running the Collective for over two years now. I’m really happy that my hobby – blogging about craftivism as A Lonely Craftivist – has turned into a collective of over 1000 members across the world supporting what we do and hundreds of craftivists around the globe crafting our projects.

Our manifesto: to expose the scandal of global poverty and human rights injustices through the power of non-threatening, thought-provoking public craft.

We are not a campaigning organisation because we don’t tell people what to say, do or think. Our role is to provoke conversations about injustice and our global neighbours in areas and locations where politics is not normally found and with audiences that are not full-on activists.

I felt like a burnt out activist who loved craft and I was determined to marry activism with craft so that I could enjoy fighting for a better world again, using the hobbies and talents I have. So came up with the Mini Protest Banner idea, which was a reaction to clicktivism and slacktivism as well as more forceful ways of activism.

We focus on the human side of injustice and make sure everything we do is non-threatening, doesn’t demonise anyone and anyone can get involved regardless of their knowledge or craft skill. Most of our projects are timeless so people can do them anywhere in the world whenever they are free.

The priority in all of our projects is the activism message
and then the craft comes secondary as a tool to get our message across.

We make sure that all of our projects can be delivered by anyone regardless of knowledge, skill or location. All of our projects have instruction videos and you can buy a kit if you don’t want to find the resources yourself. We also have blogs that can help you deliver your project, we set up workshops and stitch-ins across the country and work with creative institutes to set up events.

Most of our projects are mini so they don’t force themselves on people but people find them, feel special finding them and are more open to discussing the provocative statement on them.

Our overarching aim is to attract new audiences to activism through the power (and prettiness) of craft. We don’t work with activism groups or go to political places (such as Occupy London) because we don’t see the benefit of preaching to the converted.

We make sure we are open to everyone whether you are a banker, craftster or fashionista and hope that we can have safe but challenging conversations with each other about what we can do in our own lives to improve the world. We are a quiet bunch of creative people who don’t feel we fit into other more masculine, angry or extrovert groups and we are creating a space for similar creative yet shy people.

“A spoonful of craft helps the activism go down”. This is how one of our longstanding craftivists, Rosa, summed up our aims and spirit.

We are passionate about it becoming a sustainable social enterprise rather than a charity because we want to have the flexibility to test out new ideas. We find that when people buy a kit or product off us they are more committed to use it and cherish it because they have invested money into it and it makes it feel a bit more valuable.

I would like everyone to remember our global neighbours and that we are all connected whatever we do. Therefore we should think about the impact we have, from what cereal we eat to how we treat someone on the bus. I want everyone to see the power they have to fulfil the world’s potential to be a beautiful place for all.

We are all complex beings. No one (in my view) is innately evil so we should encourage and support each other to be the best people we can and use the power and influence we all have to fight for a better world, instead of labelling people.

I love this quote by Lilla Watson: “If you’ve come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. But if you’ve come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” It breaks the myth that we can save each other and reminds us we are all equal and need to work together using each others skills and passions to create real lasting positive change.

My parents are heroes of mine. They work tirelessly to support vulnerable people in the community that they live and work in, in Everton and have always encouraged me to use my passions and talents to fight for justice in a sustainable, fun and loving way.

I try and make sure that my lifestyle choices, behaviour and attitude don’t harm people or the planet. Plus I strive to remind people that whatever their talents and hobbies are, they can use them to improve our world.

Some women in Chile crafted appliqués in secret under the Pinochet dictatorship. Amnesty International smuggled them back to the UK to use as evidence against Pinochet and won. They are our heroes!

At the moment we are finishing off our hankies for influential people and making alternative cards and Tatty Devine gifts ready for Valentine’s Day to encourage people to show love to their global neighbour and not just their crush/partner etc.

I’m creating a series of cross-stitch masks for human-sized statues I’m going to put up around the UK and take photos of them for an exhibition in Ink-d Gallery.

It makes me really happy when people tell me they enjoy doing our projects. I love hearing stories, seeing people enjoy our workshops and having really interesting conversations about inequality and how they feel empowered to make changes in their own life and to ‘be the change they wish to see in the word’.


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